Why does it seem like the problems Solomon wrote about centuries ago are still problems facing our culture today? There are still wealthy people and poor people, and the gap seems to be enlarging all the time. People are always complaining about the red tape in government, including ineffective measures. And, we still die, taking nothing with us.
This isn’t the first time Solomon focused his lament on having riches. Remember, he was king, and God had given him more than wisdom to enjoy. How lavishly he lived his life, we can surely imagine from all the descriptions we have in the Bible. When you have that much “stuff,” it must be hard to imagine not having it or leaving it all behind.
I think immediately of Jesus’ words to the rich man in Matthew 19:21. “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” We’re told the rich man went away sad because he wasn’t ready to part with his “stuff.”
When we follow Jesus, we don’t need all those riches to fulfill us. Jesus rightly knew how those riches would hold us back and distract us from being dependent on God. It seems Solomon was figuring this out for himself as well.
Solomon was realizing God was the answer. His viewpoint of the “serious problem” had been a bit dark believing that people were “frustrated, discouraged, and angry.” You know something is wrong when your people have lost their joy. I worked my whole life, but I can’t say I ever felt like I was “under a cloud.” But then again, I had Jesus in my life. I took pride in my work for how it helped people. People who simply punch a clock to get a paycheck are probably the ones who see that “cloud.”
When Solomon starts talking about what is “good,” he can’t help but share about God. God is the source of goodness, and he loves to give his children gifts. The wealth we have as followers is a wealth in our spirits. The Holy Spirit will continue to shower us with gifts. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Such wealth we all have as believers! Hallelujah!
What did you think of this closing statement of Solomon? “God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.” If part of enjoying that life involves having a relationship with God, we experience joy that others can only imagine. Solomon was seeing both sides of this as we know he had many foreign wives who had distracted him from the one, true God. Let’s not let ourselves get distracted in this busy, crazy world.
Let’s pray. Father God, I need you to keep me close during these uncertain days. It seems everywhere I look I see something new under the sun that shocks me. I am so grateful that I can climb up into your holy lap and find comfort and rest. You renew and recharge your children, and I am so thankful for that gift of rest. Forgive me for falling short of your intentions for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.